|GATE - 1989/4 - 1990/1 - GATE's Cooperation Partner Programme (GTZ GATE, 1990, 40 p.)|
by Peter Baz
"... In 1978, GATE was founded as a division of GTZ by the Federal Ministries for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) and Research and Technology (BMFT). GATE was assigned the task of promoting Appropriate Technology on a broad scale on behalf of the Federal Government and, owing to this institutional anchoring, the concept of Appropriate Technology became an offical, established part of Technical Cooperation (TC) with the developing countries (DCs).
Even today, 10 years later, we find that the AT concept and the ideas associated with it have only slowly begun to influence Technical Cooperation in everyday practice.
This makes it quite clear that, in our country at least, a wide gap still exists between the claims that are made for practicing the AT approach and what has actually been achieved in this area to date.
Question-and-Answer Service an important instrument
GATE created the Question-and-Answer Service in 1978 in an effort to meet the DCs' demands for access to technology-related information and at the same time to help Appropriate Technology become a fully-accepted and effective instrument of Technical Cooperation in practice.
In terms of development policy, the Question-and-Answer Service was based on the basic needs strategy formulated by the Federal Government. It focusses on three key aspects:
1. The countries of the Third World are not to develop according to models of development imposed on them from the outside, but rather in line with their own models of progress. Therefore, development policy cooperation promotes cooperation among the DCs and every measure is examined with a view to the cultural and social impacts it can be expected to have.
2. The principal goal of cooperation is to combat absolute poverty and thus to satisfy basic needs. For this reason, the least developed countries (LLDCs) are the first to receive consideration. The promotion of rural development as well as conventional and renewable energy sources and the preservation of natural resources are accorded the highest priority.
3. An increasing amount of support is being provided to those countries which have concentrated their own efforts on combatting absolute poverty, especially those which have demonstrated a willingness to undertake necessary structural reforms.
GATE's Question-and-Answer Service did not adopt these important, fundamental principles of development-policy cooperation after the fact. Rather, the service made them the conceptual basis of its activities even before they became an official part of government policy.
When the Question-and-Answer Service was first set up, its tasks consisted primarily of answering requests for technical information, guided by an orientation to AT, basic needs and village target groups.
However, it soon became apparent that the instrument of providing written replies to enquiries was not sufficient, and that local intermediary organizations were necessary in order for the inputs in terms of technical know-how to be applied in a manner that would promote the development process.
Close cooperation with partners essential for success
Experience gained in the transfer of technology to DCs, as well as the attempt to integrate AT approaches into GTZ projects, showed that technology options cannot simply be assimilated and transferred, without taking into account the specific conditions of the context in which they are to be applied. Rather, successful transfer presupposes the existence of long-term cooperation relationships, since only in this way is it possible to create the multitude of linkages between the technical, economic, ecological and social systems, which are required in order for a technology to function properly. Moreover, we found that the sustainability of measures over the long term is a criterion which is crucial for an effective strengthening of self-help activities:
"Simply dispatching options' has only rarely resulted in success. It was realized that cooperation with DC partner organizations had to be continuous and long-term in nature. "
Since 1981, for the reasons presented above, the Cooperation Partner Programme has been expanded into a major focus of the Questionand-Answer project, in addition to the handling of requests for information.
It should be noted here that the Question-and-Answer Service does not create partner organizations as such, but rather supports the work of existing organizations and their efforts to become established by providing advisory assistance in the planning and implementation of specific projects.
The Cooperation Partner Programme preconditions and goals
In order to be considered for such assistance, the groups and organizations must already exist as viable entities which, moreover,
· have sources of financing
other than GATE,
· are involved in development work oriented to basic needs,
· maintain close ties with local target groups,
· conduct project activities that are varied and long-term in nature,
· exhibit democratic and participatory decision-making processes.
The specific goals of partner cooperation are:
1. Direct holistic and project-related support of autonomous AT centres that work with the target group(s) at the grassroots level
2. The creation of efficiently operated centres as bases for regionally independent cooperation networks with the aim of expanding them into regional and international networks
3. Learning from the partners by collecting, processing and supplying technical data, information and know-how in a form which is relevant to the application of technology.
The long-term measures for achieving these goals serve to directly promote rural development programmes in the cooperation partner's respective area of responsibility.
What the programme offers
The Cooperation Partner Programme includes a broadly designed package of individual measures geared to the respective partner's needs and capabilities:
· the exchange of know-how and
· the exchange of project-specific experience and information
· support for the expansion of the technical, organizational infrastructure through
- the establishment and development of AT documentation
- the initiation of regional question-and-answer services
- management support and organizational assistance
- administrative assistance
· the provision of assistance
and support in the implementation of projects
· the provision of support in organizing local target groups and target group meetings
· joint preparation and editing of publications
· support for joint participation in important local/regional exhibitions
· the assignment of short-term onsite experts
· further education and training measures for specialized personnel of the partner organization
· advisory assistance and regular visits by the desk officer of the Question-and-Answer Service.
Most assistance for AT dissemination
A rough evaluation of the activities undertaken with 21 cooperation partners since 1981 yielded the following findings:
1. Most of the approximately 300 assistance measures served the dissemination of AT options (AT dissemination). Roughly the same number of measures were implemented to strengthen the partner organization and inform the target groups. Only a relatively small number of measures for the development of AT hardware received support.
2. In recent years, a few partners have increasingly asked for support to conduct evaluations of the work performed thus far and to prepare a medium-term strategy for the continuation of activities based on the relevant findings. Together with Helvetas, for example, we assisted SIBAT with an evaluation, and we also worked with SPATF in the preparation of a five-year plan.
3. With regard to the handling of formal, organizational aspects, a multitude of problems invariably arise which are not to be underestimated. In many cases, these problems result in misunderstandings, delays, and in many cases high inputs in terms of time and labour. I would like to mention only a few of the more important problems:
- Delayed and inadequate reporting on the supported
- Frequent failures to submit requests for funds
- Problems encountered in the transfer of funds
- Problems in preparing and submitting project applications.
Does the programme reach the target groups?
Apart from these experiences, there are a number of questions we ask ourselves with regard to our own work, including those activities specifically commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation. Perhaps it will be possible in the course of the seminar to find answers to one or the other of these questions.
One of the main questions, which is also the theme of the seminar, is:
Does the Cooperation Partner Programme actually reach the target groups? . . .
Further questions of importance, especially in working with our partners, are:
· What contribution can NGOs effectively make to the development process in their respective countries?
· How much support should be provided and for how long?
· How do the problems posed by limited financing of measures, low salaries of local staff, lack of career prospects, high fluctuations in personnel, etc., affect the quality and long-term viability of the partners' activities?
· What steps have to be taken to improve assistance measures in order to make them more effective?
Further development of the Cooperation Partner Programme and the outlook for future activities
After eight years of experience in working with NGOs, the goals we have set out to achieve with renewed effort in the near to medium term future are
· firstly, to evaluate and process this experience in order to make the resulting information available not only to GTZ, our partners and NGOs in general, but to other institutions as well.
This is to be accomplished by converting the existing store of relevant know-how and experience into designs, methods and instruments which will then be made available.
We shall offer advisory services and conduct workshops in order to transmit this knowledge and provide the necessary training; and
· secondly, to support the partner organizations with whom we cooperate in such a way that they will acquire the capabilities and qualifications to develop and implement their own medium-term strategies and medium- and long term planning activities.
In conjunction with those efforts, we also consider it particularly important for the cooperation partners to develop an ability to involve the donor agencies in their planning processes and to work with GTZ projects while maintaining their own identity and sense of autonomy."
It is now a good ten years since GATE's Question-and-Answer Service was set up, as a means of helping developing countries to obtain technological information. At the same time, however, the service was intended to promote widespread acceptance of the concept of AT. It soon became clear, however, that success can only be achieved in this field by working in close cooperation with partners. This led to the creation of the Cooperation Partner Programme. But despite the success of this programme the question repeatedly has to be asked whether the target groups are in fact reached.
Le service question-reponse de GATE a été mis en place il y a une dizaine d'années pour permettre aux pays en vole de développement d'avoir accès a des informations en matière de technologie. La création de ce service avait simultanément pour but de contribuer a la reconnaissance du concept de la technologie appropriée par un large public. On a cependant très rapidement constate que le travail dans ce domaine ne pouvait être fructueux qu'en collaboration étroite avec des partenaires. Cette constation a mené a la création du programme de coopérants qui regroupe actuellement 21 organisations partenaires. Néanmoins, en dépit du succès remporte par ce programme, il faut continuellement se demander si les groupes cibles vent véritablement touches.
El servicio de consulta de GATE fue creado trace mas de diez arlos pare proporcionar a los paises en vias de desarrollo el acceso a la información sobre tecnología. Pero al mismo tiempo se queria conseguir con es te servicio el reconocimiento general para el concepto de la tecnologia apropiada. Pero pronto pudo comprobarse que sólo mediante una estrecha cooperación con los oros interlocutores era possible un trabajo exitoso en este sector. Esto Ilevó a la creación del programa de cooperación, que actualmente comprende 21 organizaciones. Pero a pesar del éxito de este programa hay que preguntarse una vez más si alcanza realmente a los grupos a los que está destinado.